Friday, April 13, 2012

Using Superstition In Writing for Children

Is Friday the 13th an unlucky day? I'm not one for superstition, but I think that it can add an interesting element in a novel, especially if you're writing for middle graders.

Kids can be less skeptical than adults and more willing to believe that something can bring them good luck (or bad luck). They also might test out a superstition to see if it's true. I love it when story characters have their own, personal superstitions that are unique to them. I suspect there are likely some superstitions or sayings that are specific to particular regions or settings.

Some common bad luck superstitions:
  • Friday the thirteenth is an unlucky day
  • If you walk under a ladder, you will have bad luck
  • If a black cat crosses your path you will have bad luck
  • Breaking a mirror brings you seven years bad luck
  • Opening an umbrella in the house brings bad luck
  • Step on a crack, break your mother's back  
  • Wearing an opal when it is not your birthstone is bad luck

Some common good luck superstitions:
  • A rabbit's foot brings good luck
  • Finding a four-leaf clover brings good luck
  • Wearing clothes inside out will bring good luck
  • If you blow out all of the candles on your birthday cake with the first breath you will get whatever you wish for
  • Crossing your fingers helps to avoid bad luck and helps a wish come true

As I'm thinking about these, I'm remembering my grandmother and some of her sayings, which have passed along to me through my mother.  I'm also starting to hear the voice of a highly superstitious story character in my head!

Have you ever created a story character with any superstitions about what is lucky or unlucky? Or have you come across any stories where superstition plays an important role?


Sleuths, Spies and Alibis tells us about Using Lore, Legends, and Superstitions


  1. I'd like to one day write a story where the protagonist is skeptical about the superstitious but everything that supposedly brings bad luck is giving them bad luck. I'm not sure if I'd end it with the character still strong in their beliefs against superstitions or not.

  2. What a cool post for today! I'm not at all superstitious, but I could see how using that trait in a character could produce an interesting story. And it makes me think of TOUCH BLUE by Cynthia Lord.

  3. I started writing a story about a boy who had a lucky set of cards but his sister unlucked them. And I've thought about writing a story about horoscopes. The main character realizes the opposite of her horoscope always comes true and plans her day accordingly. Both stories need good endings though.

    Also, make a wish at 11:11 exactly and it will come true. And if you spill salt, throw some over your shoulder to ward off bad luck.

    1. Kate, I hadn't heard of that 11:11 one. But I've heard of the salt one.

      Yeah, I'm learning that it's important to have some hint of what the ending will be before I start writing.


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